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Families with kids are most likely to own a pet, so it may not come as surprising news that in addition to the built-in friendship and playtime that comes along with the child-dog relationship, there are a multitude of emotional and educational benefits as well.
Get ready for your furry child to teach your human child(ren) some invaluable life lessons, such as:
Dogs require a lot of attention and on a frequent, regular schedule. So, whether you involve your child(ren) in daily feeding, exercise, or even cleaning up after puppy goes potty, these chores will quickly teach your child the meaning of responsibility. And with that responsibility, comes the unmatched feeling of accomplishment. By praising your child when they successfully complete a task, the importance of responsibility will be enforced.
Understanding and responding to a dog’s basic needs teaches kids both compassion and empathy. When the family dog is under the weather, take that trying time as an opportunity to teach your child the significance of being a caretaker. Explain that with the child’s help, the dog can be nursed back to health. This will reinforce the important lesson of nurturing and showing empathy for others who need comfort.
Teaching a child to be respectful can be a difficult task, but through simple tasks such as petting a dog gently, acting as a caretaker or even giving a dog necessary space or time alone when sleeping or eating, your child will start to learn the meaning of respect.
A dog is known to be fiercely loyal to his family and with explanation of what loyalty means – a strong feeling of support and allegiance – children will quickly begin to understand the significance and how to reciprocate that love and devotion.
Dogs trust that their owners will take care of them and keep them healthy. This concept alone is a lesson in trust. Delving a bit deeper, dogs are often described as offering unconditional love. Whether their owner is sad, happy, scared or upset, dogs do not judge and do not withhold their devotion. This can be a step in helping your child learn to build trust in other relationships, too.
Unfortunately, losing a pet is an inevitable and heartbreaking part of life. When a dog gets sick and passes away, it’s important to use the experience (depending on the appropriate age of the child) as an invaluable teaching moment. For example, learning coping skills as well as allowing time to mourn and cry are important pieces of the bereavement process.
- Physical Health
Playing a game of fetch with your dog is not only a fun bonding activity, but it’s also an opportunity to teach your child the importance of physical fitness, treating your body well and staying active for overall health and well-being.
Bonding with a dog can be a process. While your child may want to pick up the puppy right away and snuggle her, puppy may not yet be comfortable with the child. This is prime time for a lesson in waiting for the good stuff. Similarly, training can be extremely frustrating for a child (and you for that matter). By explaining that with time and hard work, training will show results, the art of patience will be learned.
Anyone who has a dog can attest that these furry four-legged buddies are the best conversation starters! While walking the dog, you’re bound to run into other dog walkers who will ask you your dog’s breed, name, age and more. Having your child join you on the walk and answer these questions as well as reciprocate, will help teach the art of conversing and being polite. To this point, pets are known to be extremely beneficial to children with autism and other developmental issues, who may lack social skills such as sharing or making eye contact.
Living in the Moment
A dog sticks his head out the window of the car to enjoy a fresh breeze, jumps in puddles without fear of getting wet, chases balls tirelessly and shows excitement to express interest. Likewise, kids shouldn’t hold back when it comes to living life to its fullest each and every day. Following their dog’s lead, encourage them to take joy in even the smallest moments.